tv [untitled] December 2, 2013 1:00am-1:31am PST
so, welcome. >> great. thank you very much. >> we have public comment on item number 6? seeing none, any other commissioner cments? well, great, welcome, benjamin, and good luck. we'll hear from you in the future. next item, please. >> item 7, presentation and discussion from mobile retail and services operators about their business and reasons for pursuing a mobile business platform. this is a discussion item. and we have with us several mobile retail operators that will each provide a presentation about their individual business. >> so, before you start, commissioners, since we're getting close to in the next month and a half to two months finalizing our mobile retail permit program, you haven't had an opportunity yet to meet some of the folks that we've been meeting with and work erg with on the mobile retail side ~. a the small business commission, and these are some
of the our newest innovative small businesses, i thought it would be important before we get down to the wire of approving the program that the office is creating that you have an opportunity to meet the businesses that we've been working with. >> great. welcome. >> hello, thanks for having us. my name is christina and i'm the owner of top shelf boutique. >> christina, can you bring it down? >> as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, i'm going to show you a short video that was made for me about my mobile retail business last year by pay pal. it's a 2-minute long video and gives you a better understanding of what i do, who i am, and what my business is. >> great. ♪
[video presentation] >> i've gone against the grain my entire life. whatever my parents wanted me to do, i didn't want to do. and i had a love for fashion since i was, i don't know, as long as i could remember. when i wake up i can't believe this is happening. i've been talking about this forever. my friends know i've been talking about owning and running a store. i didn't know i'd be a truck driver, but here i am. through top shelf, i turn trendy new and old up cycled merchandise. people just want something off a truck whether it be food, a bracelet or a shirt. they love t. it creates a new shopping experience and a more personal touch. each day when i get up, i don't really know what to expect when i go out there. that not being the same is what i thrive on. my father always understood my
sort of nontraditional guide. he got it, but i really wanted to do something for myself. in 2008 i actually lost my father to cancer. it happened super, super fast and it was like the worst time of my life. that being said, it made me realize like life can be short, you never know what will happen. and if you want to do something, you better do it. so, that's when i made the decision i was going to do this. i don't care what it takes, it's going to happen. i just kind of emptied my savings, bought the truck, and it went like this. i have a lot of big dreams for top shelf. i'm super driven and very passionate about what i do. i feel if i show that energy, people will love it. this is my baby, this is my business. it will succeed.
~ ~ [end video presentation >> then i have a short powerpoint presentation. so, that kind of gives you an idea of what i do. some quick definitions about mobile retail, it is sort of a new industry. again, so, people that haven't seen it aren't really familiar with it, but just a basic definition is mobile retail is a process of selling non-food goods and services from a vehicle and a mobile retail truck, mrt, is a vehicle used and operated to sell non-food goods, wares or merchandise. next slide, do i just hit the arrow? so, you guys saw the video. does this one work?
essentially, i have a 24-foot step down that used to be a bed truck that i completely converted into a women's clothing store on wheels complete with hardwood floors, a dressing room, custom everything. it was really the labor of love getting this thing put together. why mobile retail? so, when i was starting this business two years ago, i didn't think i was going -- as i said, i didn't think i'd be driving a truck. i was trying to start a brick and mortar boutique, but i was having all these issues getting the capital together and finding the space and it's a common story with beginning entrepreneurs in the city. so, lowers barriers to entry, this is a way for entrepreneurs to start their business if they're thinking of going into a brick and mortar, something that requires long-term commitment and a lot of funding and capital. now that i've been in business since 2012, there is a demand,
people do love this. i never have heard anyone come on the truck and say, this is horrible, get out of here. i hear everything positive. i'm sure there are opposition in other areas, but i can see that there is a demand. consumers seem to like things coming to them similar to online shopping and things coming to their doorstep, to their neighborhood. it's kind of the epitome of innovation and it's super fun and rewards entrepreneurs. so, i mean, san francisco is a place where innovation is -- it's the capital of innovation. this encompasses culture and innovation that is san francisco. food truck envy, so, it's kind of a bit comes down to they've done it, we're kind of riding that coat tail but in a different way and trying to do it [speaker not understood]
which is why we're here to present to you. and pop ups and their success. so, this year i've actually got to open a brick and mortar store. so, i've expanded. and now i have the truck and the store. and i started in a pop-up and that's what gave me the ability to do that. so, pop-ups seem to be really popular right now and the truck is actually a complete pop-up. so, it gives you a chance to test the market and go in different neighborhoods with a product or service and see if it's successful. creates a friendly and safe environment. so, a lot of the areas of town that maybe are going through some kind of gentrification or change, i've been participating in mccop and hub which you sent me an e-mail about that. others that don't generally have thing going on, this is a way to bring light to a dark spot, i guess. so, mission and goals. as i said, san francisco is a
city that drives entrepreneurship, creativity and culture. mobile retail combines all of these qualities. our goal -- and i believe i speak for most of the mobile retailers that are in my organization -- is to really work together with existing brick and mortars. we don't want to take anything away from anybody. we really want to collaborate and cross promote. there's a lot of traditional ways of marketing and promotion that are done in brick and mortar and time i'm finding that now, i'm launching my first s.f. weekly ad for my holiday ad for my brick and mortar store. facebook, media, tums abler, printer, makes really great cross promotion and i believe that our trucks could ~ -- our followers could end up spilling over into neighborhoods they generally don't shop in because we're there. so, it could mean increased foot traffic for everyone. and i would like to just do this [speaker not understood] about mobile retail because
i've attended some different community meetings and there's a lot of people that think that there's no -- little to no cost associated with doing business this way. and that's definitely false. there's many different kinds of insurance we have to get. there's general liability insurance, insurance to cover our goods, storage fees. since we're kind of limited to large events right now, there's lots of vendor fees. great events cost a lot. i did treasure land festival. it was an expensive event for me to attend, not to mention the purchase of the truck, remodel of the truck, painting of the truck, everything a brick and mortar would have to get, bags, tags, merchandise, everything else. there is definitely a lot of costs to doing business this way. gas as well. some people have criticized we aren't a legitimate tax paying businesses, which i guess they're more referring to
somebody that sells boot leg goods or shows up and pops open the trunk and sells stuff without paying taxes. i would like to say that we are tax paying individuals. i pay -- i feel a pay a ton of taxes lately. sales tax, boe monthly sales tax. business license, i have the business license from here. all other fees associated with starting a new business. the next myth that mobile retail takes money out of brick and mortar hands. like i said on the previous slide, i'm more on the side of collaborating together to boost both businesses. i've done some collaboration with my truck with brick and mortar stores, each time we're done they always say how their business was great and so is mine. it makes for an awesome collaboration. especially right now with everything going on in san francisco, there's a lot of money in the city and i feel there's enough to go around for everybody if we can work together. so, and cost to make mobile
retail [speaker not understood]. i think people think we pop up. we don't have a ton of expenses and it's extremely profitable. it's hard to run this business, what your next pop up is going to be and your demographic, it's hard hard to make money that way. you have to constantly cater to the new audience as with you move around. it's a advantage and disadvantage of being mobile. tiny amount of square footage, too, makes it hard to -- you have to get really creative on your space and the fact that it's kind of a seasonal business. i'm entering the time frame where the mobile business will not be doing as well as may through october. so, it's definitely a struggle to get through the cold months with an outdoor base business model that relies on events. [speaker not understood]. as i mentioned the top shelf truck got rolling in may of 2012. one year later i was lucky enough to open my first brick and norte ar in the gallery a.
now both units are equally important to our business model ~ and complement each other very well. with the permitting system in place and dedicated locations determined, the top shelf truck will be able to work more than just weekends, create more jobs and add to s.f. culture of innovation creativity. in closing, i just would like to state that the mobile retail industry is growing. i was the first in may to launch for the association that i'm a part of and now we have 9 or 10 trucks [speaker not understood] later in the association. that's just within our association. i'm not sure who else is out there. ~ operating. the rest of the nation as well, i get e-mails every day about how to do this business and how to start one. so, i know that it's something that people are really into. and i feel it's important to nurture s.f.'s small businesses so they can grow into larger businesses and help our community. with a permitting system in
place, mobile retailers can have a place in the market to safely and legally run their business. thank you. >> great, thank you. next. >> hello, we're going to ham and egg it here. first, thank you for having us here. my name is [speaker not understood] kelly. >> hollis, can you hold off just one second? we need the microphone because they do the translation for -- >> the screen stuck, so, please bear with me for a second. all right, thanks. >> again, my name is hollis kelly. this is my business partner and also best friend since preschool and we are the proud owners of [speaker not understood] showrooms. we're a little bit different. so, we are not a mobile retail
store. we are a mobile showroom company. so, we have a few slides here. we're going to go over and the goal is just to tell a little story about us and also give everyone a better understanding of what we do. >> keep in mind, only one of us can work at a time and i have to manually switch it. >> okay, we'll do a popcorn thing. you can switch it. does that look familiar? >> that looks familiar. >> yes, that is a rick shaw bag made right here in san francisco, california for the most part. that's my bag. and about three years ago i was in the market for a bag. i'm going to tell a story of how we came up with this business idea. so, i'm doing research online looking at different bags and i came across rick shaw, they have a fabulous e-commerce site. they have all the bells and whistles. you can change the bag. you can see it from different directions. you can change the cloth. you can change the material, you can change the color.
mark gives a famous tutorial about what the bag is about, where you put your keys, et cetera, et cetera. well, a few weeks went by and i didn't buy the bag. i came across -- i think it was a pamphlet from 7 by 7 magazine and it kind of explained different areas or neighborhoods in san francisco and what you can do in those neighborhoods. and retail it said rick shaw bags. so, i rode my bike there, checked out your store front and i had the bag in five minutes. and i thought to myself, wow, i think it very important, especially for me to touch, feel, and experience products that are tangible but you could typically only buy online. so, that's where we came up with the idea. >> the other thing we felt was we just noticed how many great manufacturers, especially smaller companies here in san francisco and also in the bay
area were popping up with really phenomenal products and passionate owners who were putting their lives in creating these great products. one of the problems is it's tough to get on the internet. so, parts of this was coming up with a way for smaller companies in particular who are just kind of getting off the ground to get their products out in front of people so people can really understand their brand, the quality, things like that. to be able to get a little bit of traction here in the city. >> so, i'll talk a little bit about the showroom itself. we'll show you a few slides. in a similar fashion a christina, we took a bread truck and converted it into a high-end mobile space. a couple things we wanted to make it extremely versatile so we could accommodate a lot of different types of products. could be clothing, could be home goods, could be furniture, thing like that that people generally like to touch and see before buying.
can you go back two? one more. the other piece obviously it what critical to be mobile. we wanted to get out to different audiences. it was a way for smaller companies to test their products to see who would respond in different market street. that was a critical piece to this. so, you can see it's very versatile space. we work with a lot of local companies, few companies in particular. they're a part of that sma. if you can focus for us. yeah, so, showrooming, there is a real formal definition of showrooming. basically what it is, it's an environment where people can go in, they could touch, see, experience tangible goods that normally can be found only online. once they experience the product, they leave with a coupon code and then hopefully they buy online, simple as that.
so, again, just to reinforce this, it's heavily focused on smaller companies. it just makes more sense for them because it's a new experience for a lot of our customers. it's not only a way to get you customers, but reinforce with existing customers. they find this through social media. similar fashion again to christina, a big part of this. one thing to note is people have used it, companies have used it as a transition to a more formal brick and mortar environment. so, to take one of our customers as a case in point, do-do case, cases for ipads and tablets here in san francisco, they've got about 25 or 30 people part of s.f. made. for them its was a good chance to test different retail environments. we started working with them about a year ago now. they've since gone on to test different brick and mortar environments here in the city.
so, just a case in point where people are actually getting into space for a longer term. another thing, and christina talked about this, is being kind of complementary to existing businesses. there is a lot of -- we've been to the community meetings on this as well and there is push back. people are protective of what they have. frankly, we're a small scrappy company and trying to help not only smallmaner companies, but sustain ourselves. we haven't personally heard any negative feedback from businesses we've been around or people that have been on the street. so that comes largely from smaller or more established companies that see it as a threat. but may not necessarily understand what we're doing. we don't feel like we're in direct competition with these companies. another thing is helping to generate a buzz in the neighborhood. so, again, this is kind of christina's point. finally, it is in the nature of
san francisco's entrepreneurial spirit to have [speaker not understood] i guess come in, in our case, not only build our own business he, but smaller companies and hopefully grow together. in the past it's done really well. we have a lot of passionate customers who i think would speak highly of us and would use us again. >> so, we kind of skipped a little bit here. so, we had the idea and of course we didn't just go out and buy a truck. we did our due diligence. we went to the city of san francisco in terms of permitting. we went to the police department, i think it's on brian, isn't it? >> um-hm. >> we went back and forth and presented our idea and said, listen, this is what we're doing. we're going to put products into our vehicle. we want people to come, touch, feel experience them, but no one is going to buy anything. we couldn't get an answer.
in fact, we did submit a plan to the d.a., we never heard back. and eventually the person that we were working with basically said, hey, listen, there are no permits just as long as you follow the parking lots. and that's basically what we've done. so, here's a few companies that we've worked with. this is gareli and three fish studios, eric is the owner of three fish studios. it's a little different because he's an artist. this is when we first started our business and we're just trying to make a splash. that's on divisadero, a neighborhood that i live in. next slide. that's capital aye wear, member of sf made, he makes handmade glasses out of wood ~. great product. he makes each and every one of them by hand which is amazing. and his name is stephen, the owner of the business. that's beta brand.
everyone knows beta brand. that was actually our first customer. they're located, i believe, on cesar chavez and that was a fun day, those guys, they're fun. and that's do-do case which ted talked about earlier and they make ipad cases using traditional book binding practices to do so. it's a great product. and their whole pitch is that they not only preserve the art of book binding, but also your tablet. and then [speaker not understood] based out of oakland. for the most part a design company, they make modular wall units. it's great for urban living. they do not produce in the united states. this is one company that doesn't. they actually -- they buy from china, but they are recycled -- it is recycled plastic. >> we just wanted to -- i mean,
there's a lot of detail that's gone into this. christian and regina have been helpful in kind of guiding the structure of how this is going to be done in practice. we just wanted to introduce ourselves, kind of tell you a little bit about what we're doing. i'm sure there are plenty of questions. so, thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> great, thank you. commissioner dwight. >> thanks for coming in, all of you, for presenting today. i think we've all acknowledged there are new certain novel retail concepts springing up. as a city that prides itself on being on the forefront of innovation, i think we want to enable this as much as we can. i think, and perhaps this will come up in public comment, i think that sort of the concern if there is any is that these types of operations, whether they are selling food or selling products or whatever they might be, when they pull up on the curb in front of
established business he in merchant corridors, there is the potential that they obscure the businesses that are already there, whether visually or just sort of -- you know, just because there's stuff going on that's distracting from the general business that's established in the corridor. that said, i think it's probably more likely that you create excitement, which brings people into the corridor that might not be inclined to visit, provides more excitement. and after all, retail malls exist because it's presumably capote heates excitement around the proximity of other retailers. and, so, you know, i think my general proclivity is to side -- to err on the side of the nature of it being exciting and encouraging and growing business, that it doesn't detract from existing retail. so, that's just kind of -- as i have heard some of these
presentations individually and now as we hear them today. >> any other commissioner comment? commissioner dooley. >> i was really excited to hear about you guys going into neighborhoods that are not quite as well served with what you offer. and i think that's a great service to these neighborhoods, and i really want to encourage that. that's a really great thing to do and great for the city. >> commissioner riley. >> yeah, i have a question. how do you determine where you're going to be and how do your customers and clients find you? >> well, for us, it depend on the products because we're switching out products every two to three weeks, we call them campaigns. it just depends on the demographic that they're looking for. so, if we're selling beanies, we might want to go to like dolores park where everyone is wearing beanies even if it's 90 degrees out. if it's a briefcase we're going to go down to the financial district. it just depends what we're
showcasing and we do use social media, facebook, twitter to say where we're going to be that day. >> for me my product -- oh. my product doesn't change as much as far as target goes. i just try to stick to events that encompass my target market or in the rare case that i could be in the neighborhood doing a collaboration or street party somewhere where i know my demographic will be shopping. and as well as twitter, facebook, all of the social outlets. >> that's great, thanks. >> i'd just like to say i like the fact that you collaborate with brick and mortar and i agree with what commissioner dwight says. it's like a mall. when you get a whole bunch, it does create excitement. and this is a new industry, okay. and you guys are at the forefront of this new industry, and san francisco is known for being creative in new industries.
i want to thank christian here for heading up the mobile retail group and getting you all involved because this is something that's here and it's coming and it's here to stay. i appreciate the fact that you went from mobile, and i do know what it's like to start a business and how expensive it is. not only do you have a mobile, but you have a brick and mortar now and they complement each other. small business, that's what we want to see, see that small business growth because that's what it's all about. so, i think it's very exciting. i like both of your presentations today and it really -- yours especially opened my eyes on a few things and i really appreciate that. so, good job. so, at that point if there's no other commissioner comments, i'd like to open it up for public comment. ~ on item number 7, on mobile retail. is there anybody here who would like to make any comments on this item? none? okay, seeing none, public
comment is closed. do we have any other commissioner questions? again, i want to thank you all for coming today, and great presentations. you know, i'd like to see you in my neighborhood. >> yes, thank you so much. and thank you to christian. he's been so good to all of us. he's done a great job. and thank you for regina. thank you to christian especially. i bug you all the time. i appreciate it. >> it is important because i also want to compliment the office of small business because when this is coming up and we're all hearing it because we all are involved in merchant groups, we hear this and everybody is like, oh, my god, it's coming. when this was brought up and christian just took this on and says, you know what, let's all work together bays we all are citizens of this city and like he said, this is here to stay. so, i really appreciate your involvement in working with the office of small business because without that collaboration, we don't know how to go ahead and move forward with it.
so, it's very important that we all work together on this. so, i got to thank both sides. so, thank you. >> okay, next item, please. >> before we move on, so, with regard to process here, the next -- so, the mobile retail ordinance is being drafted, is that correct, or -- >> we still have a few things that we still need to iron out both with sfmta. we have some questions that we need to get clarified with the department of public health so that we don't inadvertently -- might define something that is already a mobile retail -- i mean, a mobile operation for health reasons that would serve a fine line of some kind of health that would be cosmetic as opposed to the public good. so, there are additional definitions we need too get there. there's a few more steps we need to -- investigative and qualifying ~ and figuring out how we're going to work it, also with department of public
works. we're still having conversations about how to construct this. so, we still -- i would say we probably have a good four significant steps to go through before we kind of bring back everything up. >> and do we have sponsors for this? >> not yet because i think the questions that they may have for us, we may not -- because it's not completely baked. so, but we will soon be looking for one. >> and the hope is to have a single discussion -- a single proposal that the supervisors can a griefgrape on. ~ agree on. i know there's a lost things floating around the different offices. [speaker not understood]. >> right. our goal is actually really -- because i think sometimes things get massaged or changed because of advocacy from outside. so, our goal is to try to make sure that